So it’s Saturday night, and I’m sitting here surfing the interweb looking for a scary, travel-themed video to post. You know, because it’s almost Halloween (and my social life is a bit lacking, apparently). Here’s what popped up on Google, courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security. It certainly scared the crap out of me.
Well, isn’t this good to know – all it takes to become an international gun smuggler is a charming smile and a good excuse.
At least, that is the feeling you get when you read about alleged arms dealer Mr. Steven Greenoe. Mr. Greenoe regularly visited gun shows in North Carolina, loaded disassembled semiautomatic weapons in his luggage and flew them to the United Kingdom, where they sold with a handsome profit.
According to U.K. police, the guns were sold to criminal gangs, and one was reportedly used in a recent drive-by shooting. His 9mm Glocks were purchased at gun shows, and sold for as much as $8000, and as many as 60 guns may have been smuggled on commercial flights, with the help of the TSA.
The whole thing is pretty scary – but it gets worse – When Mr. Greenoe was stopped by TSA agents at Raleigh-Durham airport, he simply told them that he was a legitimate arms dealer, and that the guns were “engineering samples”. That is all it takes to get past the people put in charge of our airport security, because he was allowed to board an Atlanta bound plane, and then on to the U.K.
The only upside is that the arms were never carried in his carry-on luggage, but it still makes a mockery of the U.S. security, as U.K. officials now need to ask their U.S. counterparts just how stupid they actually are.
CBS News located his LinkedIn profile – which lists Mr. Greenoe as the CEO of the Jolie Rouge Group, a private security provider.
In what can only be described as a monumental screwup, a pilot for jetBlue managed to lose sight of his federally issued gun, and spent the next 40 minutes trying to locate it.
The pilot in question, Michael Connery Jr. was boarding his plane when he set his backpack down to chat with a fellow crew member. In the boarding process, a passenger on a different flight picked up her own bags, and accidentally grabbed Connery’s backpack as well.
Packed inside that backpack was a 40 caliber handgun – issued as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officer program, operated by the TSA.
Once the passenger realized the bag was not hers, she set it down on an empty seat on her plane. Another passenger pointed the unaccompanied backpack out to a crew member, who alerted the authorities. Meanwhile, Connery had already delayed his own flight while he tried to locate the backpack – taking 40 minutes to contact the airline to the incident.
Once he got his bag back, TSA officials confiscated his gun while they conducted their investigation.
While the armed flight officer program may be a good idea on paper, simple mistakes like this show how easy it is to completely defeat all security measures at the airport. Had the plane with the backpack departed on time, a gun could have been on its way to Florida in the hands of a random stranger.
A JetBlue co-pilot has been removed from his Boston crew lounge when he sent an email to his ex-girlfriend mentioning his plans to harm himself.
The pilot is a member of the TSA Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which allows pilots to carry guns on their plane – the program was developed after the attacks on 9/11. Upon being confronted by authorities, the pilot handed over the gun and was taken to a local hospital for mental evaluation.
Local authorities were quick to point out that the man never threatened passengers and was only considered a threat to himself.
Arthur Frommer, longtime travel book guru, posed a question about Arizona’s “open carry” gun laws. In Arizona, Frommer found out, people can bring loaded guns to political rallies. That’s what happened in Phoenix earlier this week when some of the protesters, who showed up outside the convention center where Barack Obama was speaking, visibly wielded guns–including an assault rifle. Such action is legal in Arizona, something Frommer feels alarmed by.
In Arthur Frommer ONLINE yesterday, he wonders if travelers ought to boycott Arizona in protest of such open carry laws since he thinks a gun law that allows people to bring loaded firearms to political protests violates citizens’ safety. He doesn’t want to travel to such places. As he wrote, if a gun had gone off, mayhem could have happened.
It’s not that Frommer objects to guns–or at least he doesn’t say if he does or doesn’t. He thinks there’s a problem when a person carrying a gun in public does so in a way that puts people in danger.
Last year, I expressed my concern about guns being allowed into US national parks for similar reasons. Of course, others have a different opinion and some expressed those in the comment section. Some comments pointed out issues I that hadn’t thought of. Some state roads and US highways, for example, pass through national parks. If a person is carrying a gun in his or her car and happens to be traveling on such a road, he or she would be in violation of a gun carrying law if guns were not allowed in a national park.
Still, there’s Frommer’s point that if people are allowed to have their guns with them as a means of intimidation, and other people are traveling through such spots, doesn’t that put people not involved in jeopardy? I seem to remember from US history classes that even when the west was wilder there were some places where people who were carrying guns had to leave them outside a town or saloon. Or, maybe that’s just the Hollywood version.